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Sex

Michael Carter, Selina Corkery

Having HIV shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the intense pleasures and intimacy of sex. You can still feel sexy, you can still have great sex and you can still have fulfilling sexual relationships, without passing HIV on to anyone else.

Many people find it difficult to talk about sex. You might find that as you learn about HIV, thinking and talking honestly about sex and relationships helps you to have better sex. 

Finding out you have HIV can make you feel differently about yourself. It may well be a shock and may result in you going off sex, at least temporarily. Some people say that when they were first diagnosed with HIV it made them feel less physically and sexually desirable and they lost confidence dating or with their sexual partner.

Finding out you have HIV can also make you look at yourself and sex in a negative way. It could make you feel bad about the kind of sex you had or are having, make you worry about the risk of passing HIV on to somebody else, or make you angry with the person who could have passed it on to you. 

An additional source of anxiety may be telling your past, present or potential sexual partners that you have HIV.

An HIV diagnosis might also feed wider negative feelings you have about who you are. It is important to remember that HIV is an infection, not a moral judgement or punishment. 

When you first find out you have HIV, your feelings about sex may change. Thinking about your feelings and talking about them with someone you trust, whether with a friend, a partner or a professional, can really help you to understand these feelings and address them.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.